Monday, April 13, 2015



For those who have discerned that they are called to the married state, the next important thing is to consider the proper forms of courtship and the sort of person they should marry.  

These are very important matters which everyone contemplating the married life ought to reflect upon in order to have a happy and peaceful marriage, and narrow the chances of losing their souls.  

So, I will quote below a couple chapters from the Reverend Father Lasance’s book, A Catholic Girl’s Guide.  

It is the some of the most helpful advice about this topic which I have ever heard, and I hope that others will benefit from it as much as I have.

Whom Should I Marry? (LXIX)

If you, Christian maiden, have attained a suitable age, feel yourself called to the married state, and receive offers of marriage, the important questions arise: Whom should I marry, or to whom ought I to become engaged, and to what ought I principally to look?  I will endeavor to give practical answers to these questions.

Always look in the first place to religion, virtue and uprightness.  Never make an intimate acquaintance with a man of whose antecedents you know nothing, and in regard to whom you are unable to obtain reliable information.  On no account allow yourself to be lulled into security by fair speeches, solemn assurances, and brilliant promises on the part of a stranger, or of one who has lived only for a few months in the place where you live.  I entreat you to believe me when I tell you that it is impossible to be too cautious in regard to strangers.  Many a young wife has prepared unhappiness for both herself and her parents by carelessness in this respect, and by allowing herself to be over-persuaded by a flattering and insinuating suitor.

Therefore I once again repeat: look only to virtue, uprightness, devotedness to our holy Church and genuine religious sentiments.  If you hear anything indicating the contrary from a reliable source or notice anything for yourself, act as did a young French lady.  She was engaged to be married, and was spending the evening before her wedding-day in the company of her betrothed and some relatives.  He began to make jocular and contemptuous remarks about religion.  His intended gently rebuked him, but he jestingly replied that a man of the world could not afford to be so particular in such matters.  Grieved and shocked, Elizabeth (that was the young lady’s name) declared that she would not marry him.  “For,” she said, “he who does not love God will not love his wife truly and faithfully.”  Nor could the united persuasions of her parents and her lover induce her to swerve from her resolution.  And I think she was perfectly right; let her maxim be yours also.

Never become engaged to a man who is careless about fulfilling his religious duties, who absents himself from Mass on days of obligation without sufficient cause, or who mocks at priests and matters connected with religion.  Never keep company with a young fellow who likes to spend his time in taverns, drinking and gambling; who keeps late hours at night, neglects his work, or one who has a very violent temper.  Give up at once a man who does not respect your innocence, but allows himself to take liberties and to be unduly familiar with you.

Let innocence be your greatest treasure, your only source of pride, and promptly turn away from anyone who with poisonous breath or profane hand would tarnish the brightness of your purity.

You must also consider in choosing a husband the external circumstances of your suitor, and whether the contrast between his position and your own is not too great.  Too great a disparity of age is too be avoided; a marriage rarely turns out well when the wife is much older than the husband.  Never permit your marriage tie to be degraded into a mere business transaction.  I chanced to read of an instance of the kind in a newspaper the other day.  A very wealthy man wanted to get a son-in-law still richer than himself.  He met with a young man to suit his ideas, and proposed to give him, in the event of his marrying his daughter, a very handsome sum as her dowry.  The gentleman, however, who probably loved money more than he loved the girl, demanded a still larger sum.  The squabble which ensued was a long one, and the wedding took place.  The young lady does not appear to have been more sensible or noble-minded than her parent; or else she would have said to him: “Father, you can do with our money what you please, but this sordid fellow shall not have me!  I want a husband who wishes to marry me, not my money!

You may perhaps ask whether you are not to pay any heed to the question of money or income in selecting a husband.  Most certainly you are; no sensible girl ought to marry a man whose calling and pecuniary circumstances do not afford a guarantee that he will be able to support a family decently without help from outside.  On the other hand no prudent and sagacious young woman would give her hand to a man merely because he is rich, or–this I must add–only on account of his good looks or attractive manners.  But if two suitors are equally good and religious it is quite justifiable to choose the richer and more pleasing.

Another objection you may raise is this: if young girls are to be so critical and fastidious in the choice of a husband they will end by getting none at all!  And in my opinion it would be a very good thing for a great many if this should prove to be the case!  However, good, clever young women have nothing to fear.

For although no statistics can be obtained on this head, it may safely be asserted that among young men who are called to the married state there are quite as many, if not more, good and worthy individuals as there are among young women who likewise wish to marry.  And this proceeds from the existing conditions of society.  For many of the best, most intelligent and clever girls do not feel themselves called to marry, but either to enter the cloister or to live unmarried in the world.  In the case of young men, almost all, with the exception of the comparatively small number of those who become priests or go into religion, are so situated as to find it desirable to enter matrimony and establish their own home.  Therefore the more accomplished, pious and capable maidens are, the better prospect they have of a happy marriage.

In conclusion let me stress upon this point: If you are at least twenty years of age you may think of becoming engaged, but not before then.  In the meantime let it be your sole effort and aim to love God, to make progress in virtue, to be pious and chaste, and to learn all you can.

The Time of Courtship (LXX)

You are aware that is behooves you at all times to watch and pray and keep strict guard over your innocence, but never is this so necessary as when you are receiving the addresses of a young man.  That is by far the most dangerous time for young people.  If they forget God, the period of their engagement often witnesses the ruin of their innocence, their peace of mind, the happiness of their life.  This topic is consequently among the most important for one whose office it is to instruct girls and give them practical advice for their guidance in moral and spiritual matters.  Let me tell you plainly what the Christian maiden should think about courtship, and how she ought to conduct herself toward her lover.

A Christian maiden ought to seek to know betimes what is allowed and what is forbidden in regard to courtship.  She ought not to wait to know this until she has fallen deeply in love and yielded to improper proposals.  In this case the eye of her conscience would be dimmed; it would become impossible for her to judge aright.  For those who have already sinned together warnings usually come too late; persuasions, entreaties, exhortations, are equally thrown away; if such persons were to see the abyss of hell yawning before them, or if someone were to rise from the dead to warn them, they would continue to pursue their evil way, saying it was impossible for them to desist from it.

“I am determined to go on, however things may turn out,” said a young girl, hitherto good and docile to her confessor, when the latter endeavored to induce her to give up a most undesirable acquaintance.  And things did turn out very badly indeed, for in a comparatively brief period the wife died in a lunatic asylum and the husband in prison.

Therefore it is important for the girl who feels that it is her vocation to be married, to have the right view in regard to courtship, before receiving the affections of any man.

We cannot approve of any familiar and intimate social intercourse between two young persons of different sexes if the acquaintance is made and carried on without a view to marriage within a reasonable time.  If a youth and maiden stand in an intimate relation to each other, and seek to be often alone together, without any idea of a speedy marriage, such a relation must be condemned.  If offers as a rule a proximate and voluntary occasion of sins against chastity, and to seek such occasions is in itself a sin.  Countless sad examples which meet us in our daily experience prove that relations of this nature are truly a proximate occasion of grievous sin.

Of course it is desirable and even necessary that two young persons who wish to marry each other should become well acquainted, and to this end courtship is quite proper.  Even in this case, however, circumstances may render a continuation of the courtship undesirable, or even actually wrong.  For instance, unexpected hindrances may arise that make the marriage impossible, or require it to be indefinitely postponed; and the young persons continue, in spite of this, to meet just as frequently as they did before.  Or one of them may allege some frivolous pretext for delaying the marriage.  How silly are many girls who allow themselves to be made fools of by young men, and do not, or rather will not, see that their admirers are thinking of anything but marriage.

Again, an acquaintance allowable in other respects becomes sinful and undesirable if the engaged parties, although determined to be married before very long, seek in the meantime to be alone together as often as possible, and at such meetings always or nearly always commit sins, if not in deed, at least in thought and desire.  There is only one way of extricating themselves from so perilous a position; they must either break off the engagement altogether, or arrange never to be left alone and to hasten their marriage.  The first alternate will probably appear difficult, if not impossible, but the second can be carried out it only there is a good will.

From all which has been said you must plainly perceive that the period of courtship is fraught with grave dangers for your innocence, and that it calls for the exercise of the greatest prudence.  Therefore note well how you ought to conduct yourself in the time of courtship.

(a) Ask advice in regard to your engagement.  A priest warned one of his parishioners not to marry a certain man.  “For,” he said, “you know him to be a drunkard, and you must be aware that whenever there is a quarrel he gets mixed up in it.”  “All he needs is a little management,” was the reply; “besides, he is a handsome fellow, and the eye wants something too.”  Six weeks after her marriage the wife came to the priest with her head bandaged, and said, amid many tears: “Oh, Father, my husband has beaten me so dreadfully!  My right eye is nearly put out!”  Gravely and sadly her confessor made answer: “My poor child, the eye wants something too.”

(b) Be sure to mention the fact of your engagement when you go to confession, as much evil may thereby be prevented.

(c) Do not delay your marriage too long.  As far as you can, avoid being alone with your betrothed.  If his visits are too frequent and too protracted, and if you seek to be alone with him when he call, it will be nothing short of a miracle if you preserve your chastity.

(d) During the time of your engagement keep strict guard over yourself in regard to your virginal purity, and insist that your future husband shall also respect it; for this reason avoid all undue familiarity.

Thrice happy will you be if you follow this advice, and can approach the nuptial altar in virginal purity.  For this end pray frequently and fervently to the Mother of God, saying: “O Mary, purest of virgins, and my Mother, guide me, guide thy weak child, that I may pass safely through the dangers which best my youthful steps!”

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